Friends in High Places….
Not only do I have rock and roll heroes, but some of my friends fall into this category. Garth Brooks wrote about some of his friends being in low places, but that’s certainly not what this story is about. I know some awesome people. I don’t make it a habit to “put people on pedestals”, but….
Here’s The Story….
My cancer took quite a downward turn in the summer of 2016. I had already gone through the litany of treatments and surgeries, but the news on this day would shake me to my core. Shake us, that is. Us? My dear Rachel and me. This complex woman would give her last dollar to a stranger in need, as her emotional well-being would continue to spiral. Depression is a very sad, very real thing. I do not pretend to understand what she was and still does continue to deal with in her life.
Your Car or Mine?
Rachel and I hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in many a year, but when she learned that I was sick, it became quite the opposite. I have real sisters, however, she was the cousin who became a “comrade-in-arms”. We did everything together – Coffee dates, lunch, doctor’s appointments. When we weren’t physically together, we texted or talked on the phone. Co-dependency? Maybe….
Going Down With the Ship?
During the summer of my “descent”, my “go-to” girl and I made a visit to my plastic surgeon. I’d had more teeth pulled a week or so before this and today was the “reveal”. What would the latest biopsy tell us? I paced the floor of the exam room while we waited for the doctor. Rachel implored me to calm down. For my part, I was having none of this. “Where is the doctor? Why is it taking him so long? Does he not know that the rest of us have lives?” My “comrade” sat right by my side and did not waver as she held my hand. What a calming “force of nature”, until….
As far as I was concerned, physicians were not always the most tactful in the sharing of unpleasant news. On this particular day, “God was doing for me what I could not do for myself”. I was sent an “Angel”. What? That’s right. He entered the room along with a head and neck surgeon. He allowed her to speak first. “Kelly, I’m Dr. “so and so”. I wasn’t comprehending her name by this point. She continued….Your cancer is spreading through your jaw and has now traveled to lymph nodes in the left base of your skull and lymph nodes in the right side of your neck. Just then, my plastic surgeon intervened. I knew the look. “It’s not good”, he pronounced. I gathered my thoughts and cried, “How much time do I have and don’t lie to me, please”! As in a tennis match, the ball was now in his corner. “The estimation is that you have four to six months with no treatment and one year to eighteen months if you do chemotherapy.” He then put his arms around me and quietly said, “I’m so sorry”.
How Did we Get From Point A to Point B?
The drive home was a “hazy mist”. I remember nothing. How did I get in the car? How did I get back out after we pulled into my driveway? I still don’t know. My significant other came home from work early in anticipation of our arrival. Scott walked out onto the porch and studied my face. By now, my tears were streaming down. He, in turn, wailed in the most gut wrenching way that I had ever seen. Rachel and I walked over to him and we gathered in a circle and held on for what seemed like “forever”.
Get Outta Here….
Anger was preparing to set in. I struggled with the anguish I was feeling and for what I could see that my Scooter was beginning to realize. My brain hurt as I adamantly blurted, “Rachel, go home”. The sorrow in her eyes was more than I could bear. “Kelly, why” was her response. “Because I have to go inside and clean out the bedroom of my things”, I screamed. Again, came the “why”? I thought that it was obvious, but I firmly stated, “So that Scott won’t have to do it”. I went into the house to pack up some clothes and reminded myself that I was not told that I would die the next day or even the day after that. This could wait. I was, at this point, exhausted. My love came inside and put his arms around me and we climbed into bed and embraced for what seemed like hours.
Give It a Whirl….
I was asked to “get on board” with the chemotherapy. My new oncologist explained that the time frames I was given were not “written in stone”. He did his best to convey that it was just an estimation. You see, “You never know what may or may not happen”. I made the decision to take part in the three potent chemo drugs. “Why not?” When my cancer had other ideas and the treatment stopped working, I was desperate to “get off the train”. But wait…. “Doogie” – any doctor that I know for a fact is younger than me, will be given this moniker – had one more “trick up his sleeve”. We agreed on an immunotherapy that became our “last resort”. I had a “love/hate” relationship with my new pharmaceutical. This one “wreaked havoc” with my immune system. For today, however, it has saved my life.
As for Rachel and me, I pray for more chapters to our book. She began to “drop off the radar”. She was sinking into despondency. As this wasn’t “my first rodeo”, I suspected that she had been spiraling for quite some time. I reached out via calls and text, but all attempts failed. I send cards on occasion and end the short paragraphs with “I will always be here for you”. She informed me that she did not want to talk. I know this isn’t about “me”. The emptiness inside of the person who knows more about me than my own Scooter is disheartening to say the least. I know that it’s in God’s hands and for that I am ever Grateful. Peace of Mind – That, my friends, is a beautiful thing….
Kelly U’Ren Moody lives in Pittsburgh, PA. She began her career in finance and after 15 years in this field, she went back to school and was certified as a health coach in 2014. That same year she was diagnosed with a head and neck cancer called oral cancer. Many surgeries and treatments followed. Her cancer began to spread and became terminal in the summer of 2016. After more treatments, the final one being immunotherapy, there is currently No Evidence of Disease. During this time she began keeping a journal that covers everything that her family and her have been going through. She is now turning these journal entries into a book. She is also a freelance writer and mostly publishes blog posts for her website.